May 2016 | Editorial
It Takes a Teaching Community
By Emily Bones
As I sit down to write the last editorial of volume two, I realize there are six weekends left of the school year, five more Monday classes, four faculty meetings, three topics I’d like to cover with my honors students, two final exams to write, and one long-awaited graduation ceremony to attend.
And then, after two quick months, the cycle begins all over again.
No other job has a schedule quite like this. After working so hard and delivering perfect lessons, you get to erase the whiteboard, so to speak, and try it all again. But rarely is it ever the same. Maybe you were inspired by a conference, read a blog post about an interesting way to teach a new topic, or had a brainstorm about how to avoid introducing a misconception. To an outsider, the teaching profession may seem repetitive… but to passionate educators, it is constantly a work in progress.
And that’s what this issue of Chemistry Solutions brings you: lots of new ideas to mull over—and perhaps a few ideas that you could incorporate into next year’s curriculum, or into your role as an educator. This issue contains articles about mentoring preservice teachers, factors to weigh when considering the department chair role, how to handle issues related with “bring your own device” policies, how to deal with chemical disposal at the end of the year, implementing meaningful science curriculum in grades 5–8, and the differences between teaching at the college and high school levels, as well as a follow-up simulation to the periodic trends activity included in the March issue.
The goal of Chemistry Solutions is to inspire you as a teacher of chemistry and to make your life a little bit easier by offering implementable activities for your classroom. It’s a platform for our multitalented members to share ideas about what works in their classrooms. It’s also a library of reliable lessons, labs, demos, and activities that you know will work—because other stellar educators have developed and used them before. And last but not least, it’s a community of passionate teachers of chemistry.
How many times do you Google that problem you need for class at the last minute, only to realize, once the kids are halfway through it, there’s a missing piece of information? Or perhaps you “borrow” a worksheet and answer key that perfectly fit with the topic you’re teaching, yet somehow your students all get different answers to one of the questions. Or maybe you find the perfect worksheet and answer key, but you can’t carry out the calculation correctly, because you’re a little rusty on the topic. The purpose of these articles is for teachers of chemistry to share reliable resources, advice and hard-won lessons with the community of their peers.
But it goes both ways.
As a member of AACT, you have a place to ask for what you need. If you read an article that inspires you, but you don’t quite know how to implement the lesson, leave a comment. The AACT staff monitors the comments and will either respond to your needs, or the author her or himself may make some suggestions. Maybe another teacher has executed the activity in a slightly different way—they too may chime in on the conversation. The purpose of AACT is for teachers of chemistry to take part in a lively exchange of ideas.
So with summer vacation approaching, take some time to peruse teachchemistry.org. If you see something you like, try incorporating it into your curriculum next year. If you find something on our site that you’ve tried, share in the comment section how you used the activity, or ideas about how you adapted it to use with other grade levels. If you are looking for something specific and can’t find it, put a request for help on the blog (to do so, contact Nicolle DiPasquale). Or if you have a particular idea or activity you want to share with the community, write about it in an article for Chemistry Solutions (Jenn Parsons can help you develop an idea into an article).
Being part of a community is an important part of teaching. And as a teacher, you’re probably part of more than one—the faculty, your department, and your classes themselves. Hopefully as a teacher of chemistry, you also take advantage of the AACT community. I know I am fortunate to have so many talented and passionate educators in my circle. Having the AACT resources available to me this year has made my transition back into the classroom much easier.